Seven Falls, Colorado

There are numerous beautiful waterfalls in Colorado, especially if you trek in the high mountains in the early summer. However, not everyone has the time to travel to the high country, so if you are in Colorado Springs, it is well worth your time to see Seven Falls. Although there are seven different falls, they are really created by one waterfall cascading across seven distinct granite sides. The entire location is stunning, and it is definitely worth traveling through the canyon where the falls are located. If you are ready to walk the 224 stairs to the top of the falls, you will be rewarded with spectacular views and the choice to trek one of the paths at the top. 

Geography Of The Seven Falls

The stream leading to the Seven Falls region.
The stream leading to the Seven Falls region.

Seven Falls, located less than a mile from The Broadmoor, is one of Colorado's most stunning natural marvels. It is located along the Front Range near Colorado Springs. Seven Falls is the only waterfall in Colorado on National Geographic's list of International Waterfalls. It is also called "The Grandest Mile of Scenery in Colorado." It is located in a 1,250-foot-wall box canyon between the towering Rock of Gibraltar (aka Pillars of Hercules). As you ascend the hard 224 stairs to the hiking paths and the banks of shimmering streams that feed the falls and its 181-foot plunge of flowing water, take in gorgeous valleys, spectacular rock formations, and golden plains.

Hiking Trails 

Visitors to Seven Falls in Colorado Springs have four different hike choices.

#1 – Hiking from the ticket area to the base of Seven Falls 

The 0.8-mile paved route from the entrance to the base of Seven Falls is open to visitors. The paved, private road runs through South Cheyenne Canyon, casting shadows on the Pillars of Hercules, a pair of twin rock pillars that rise approximately 1000 feet above the canyon floor. You can opt to ascend the 224-step stairway at the foot of the waterfall to witness the distinct components of this tiered waterfall and get access to the three treks above Seven Falls. Visitors to the falls can also take an elevator to an observation platform.

#2 – Midnight Falls Loop Hike 

After ascending the steps to the area above Seven Falls, a 0.35-mile walk heads south down Cripple Creek to Midnight Falls, another minor waterfall. This journey takes around 30 minutes round way and has a total distance of 0.7 miles out and back. 

Boardwalk for hikers passing through the mountainous terrain in the Seven Falls area.

#3 – Inspiration Point Out-and-Back Hike 

Once above the Falls, travelers will take the Midnight Falls Trail until it intersects with the Inspiration Point Trail for the first time. If you turn left onto the Inspiration Point Trail, it will take you east, then north to the Helen Hunt Jackson Memorial and the Inspiration Point viewing platform. Hikers may enjoy views of the Great Plains stretching out to the east, as well as vistas of Colorado Springs below. The round-trip climb to Inspiration Point is around 1.5 miles long and takes about an hour to finish from the top of the falls. 

#4 – Stage Road Loop Hike

By taking the path above to Inspiration Point, you may do a longer circular trip that visits both Inspiration Point and Midnight Falls. Hikers would continue south then east on the Sunrise route after reaching Inspiration Point, which meets with the Old Stage Road about 1 mile into the trip. Going right on the Old Stage Road, it will wind south, then west, intersecting with the Inspiration Point Trail (on the right/north side of the road). The Old Stage Road portion is about a mile long. The Inspiration Point trek will return you to Seven Falls. Hikers will notice the small offshoot route to Midnight Falls on the left after approximately half a mile on the Inspiration Point Trail. This circular trip may be completed after seeing Midnight Falls by returning via the Midnight Falls route to the stairs above Seven Falls. The overall distance for this circle trek is around 3 kilometers. Because Seven Falls has marked closure times, hikers should allow enough time for this lengthier climb in order to return in time for the last shuttle back to the parking area.

Brief History

Since it first opened to tourists in 1885, Seven Falls has been held by a number of different families and companies. The earliest known private ownership of the falls was by naturalist and owner James Hull, who purchased the region in 1882 out of concern for logging. One of the marketing and advertising efforts was to utilize the phrase "The Grandest Mile of Scenery in Colorado" to describe these falls and South Cheyenne Canyon. In terms of private ownership, this meant that one had to pay $10 to visit in March (it was $14 in high season in 2017), so it wasn't inexpensive. In any event, different components of the facilities, transportation, and trails were built with each new owner to make the Seven Falls even more accessible. The initial owner, James Hull, is reported to have built the route to Inspiration Point as well as the stairs to the top of the falls. The observation platform and a funicular to the Eagle's Nest overlook were erected by Al Hill and his family, the third owner. It would not be until 2002 when the falls would be illuminated. 

Finally, The Broadmoor now owns and operates the falls (a fancy hotel in the heart of the well-off area of Colorado Springs). They purchased the Seven Falls on the cheap after the region was badly flooded in late 2013. During their tenure, they cleaned up the canyon floor, reduced automobile traffic by making the area shuttle or foot-only, and erected the 1858 Restaurant at the Seven Falls. The Broadmoor Hotel, which was roughly 1.8 miles from the entrance at the foot of South Cheyenne Canyon, now had a complimentary shuttle and parking.

Seven Falls is a real Colorado experience. Immerse yourself in a geological marvel of seven unique waterfalls flowing down steep canyon sides. Walk up 224 stairs alongside the falls or take the in-mountain lift to the Eagle's Nest, which offers spectacular views of the falls. Stroll along two nature pathways and take in the scenery as you make your way to Midnight Falls.